One of the many reasons I love the start of summer is the sudden appearance of Farmer’s Markets all over the countyside. Last week was the first week for the Main Street Farmer’s Market in Washington, PA.
Since I’m a sucker for fresh produce and since we won’t be adding chickens to our farm until next season, I was on the prowl for fresh eggs and fresh produce. The Main Street Farmer’s Market happens on Thursday afternoons, so I packed up Thing Three (who is out of preschool for the summer) and called up Tapioca to see if she’d join us.
Off we went to take in the sites. The market always has live entertainment, provided last week by a local acapella church group.
As Tapicoa, Thing Three and I wandered past booths, there was plenty to smell and even taste test. We stopped to look at the jams and fresh breads offered up by Breads by Susan. It totally made me start craving the start of black raspberry season so I can make some jam from the oodles of berries growing on our farm.
We also spent some time talking to the great people at Logan Family Farms. Mr W and I have already reserved a quarter of a naturally raised grass fed cow from a local farmer, so I didn’t have need for any beef, but Tapioca spent some time talking to them and came home with two nice cuts of skirt steak and flank steak.
From there, we stopped by Emerald Valley Artisan Cheeses to taste test the gouda they had sitting out. It was a little bit earthy for my tastes, and I usually love gouda…but I have no doubt there will be other flavors to try down the road that I’ll like better. Hopefully they’ll have a brick or farmer’s cheese before the summer is through.
Just a few steps past the cheese, we spotted table after table of those teeny tiny strawberries that pop up in the midwest every May. Jodikonos Farms was selling quarts of freshly picked berries for $4.50 each and wow did they look amazing!
Tapioca and I each bought a quart to take home. Of course she forgot hers and told me to keep them, so I used them to crank out a batch of strawberry cheesecake ice cream a few days later.
As it turns out, they were also selling fresh baby spinach and fresh spring mix in huge bags for $3 each. That’s about half the price of what I pay at the store, so I snagged a bag of each of those as well. (And have been eating amazing salads every day since!)
Next up was Miss Autumn’s Heirlooms where we spotted crates of farm fresh eggs in a wide range of colors and sizes. At $3 a piece for farm fresh free range eggs, I was not passing that deal up. I came home with two dozen, including a handful of beautiful blue-green eggs in each carton.
As we rounded the bend, we spotted our friend Tim Wu and his “Tim Wu’s Shaved Ice” stand. We know Tim from church and a local Pittsburgh group, but have never actually had a chance to try his shaved ice. Since Thing Three had been doing so great as Tapioca and I worked our way through the stands, I bought him a small blue raspberry shaved ice, which he was kind enough to give me a few bites of before eating enough to turn his tongue, lips and a good chunk of his face bright blue.
As we worked our way down the other side of the market, we stopped to talk with the people at Bedallion Honey Farm. I’ve been trying to find a local beekeeper who might be interested in locating some apiaries on our farm. Seems a shame to have all this space going to waste when we simply don’t have the time (or ability yet) to use it to produce food. Oh yeah, and because I LOVE honey!
Next we worked our way past several more fresh vegetable stands…
…before coming to a stop at Mia Cucina, a small booth featuring hand made pastas. I picked up a nice size bag of freshly made linguini for $4. Perfect timing since I was planning to try to recreate the Pasta Alla Trapanese (basically a pesto made of almonds, diced tomatoes and basil) I’d had on our honeymoon in Sicily later that night.
The final haul was pretty awesome…especially considering how early in the season it was.
What this also means is that I have to adjust my weekly grocery budget to shift some of it toward farmer’s market purchases. Hopefully I can continue to buy eggs, fresh greens and the occasional pasta there. As the season progresses, I’m also hoping to shift most of my fresh produce budget there as well.
Looking for the Farmer’s Markets in your area? Check out Local Harvest. Great site featuring locally grown foods, farmer’s market listings and local CSA options.